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Water Cube: magic cube for Phelps but source of sadness for Manaudou, Hoff
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08:27, August 16, 2008

When American wunderkind Michael Phelps became the most prolific Olympic gold medalist at the bubble- shaped Water Cube, his "little sister" Katie Hoff and French mermaid Laure Manaudou both tasted bitterness in the same pool.

In the women's 100-meter backstroke semifinals on Friday, the 21- year-old Manaudou failed to swim into the top eight, then ended her journey of three events at the Beijing Olympics without any medal.

"I'm disappointed. I'm lost." After struggling for a seventh finish in the 100-meter backstroke final on Tuesday, the bronze medalist in the event at last Olympic Games in Athens has revealed her state of being frustrated thoroughly.

What's more, the defending Olympic champion completed her prime event of the 400-meter freestyle final last on Monday, more than nine second slower than her personal best.

As the first French female swimmer to clinch an Olympic title in Athens and two-time world champion in Melbourne last year, the golden girl just wanted to have a long break after her Waterloo in Beijing.

The 19-year-old Katie Hoff achieved much better results than a distracted Manaudou with one silver, two bronze medals and two fourth finishes at her second Olympic Games.

But the American girl was upset for failing to advance the final of the 800-meter freestyle on Thursday and admitted that the schedule was much tougher than she had expected.

Hoff is like a little sister to Phelps as they have trained together in the swimming club in Baltimore for a long time. The young talented swimmer, who snatched three world champion titles last year, qualified for five individual events and one relay at the Beijing Games with sensational performance at the national Olympic trials last months.

She handled the taxing program at the national trials but finally realized that the Olympic competition was much more challenging and not everybody could copy the miracle of Phelps.

Hoff seemed dragged behind by her own ambitious program while Manaudou was definitely distracted by her loose lifestyle.

After a successful experience at the World Championships last year, Manaudou split up with her coach and club in France to elope with her ex-boyfriend Luca Marin, also a swimmer to Italy.

Then, the mermaid was fired due to "bad training attitude" by her Italian club and experienced change of coaches, breakup with Marin and a disastrous nude photo leak on the Internet.

Coming into the Water Cube, Manaudou was least confident by saying that she just wanted to make the finals in her three events.

When superfish Phelps has added six to the six gold medals he won in Athens and with two more to be chased in the last two swimming competition day, Manaudou and Hoff could only tasted their bitterness.


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